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by, and some return made to him (for such he is pleased to esteem it) by the gratitude of his creatures. Instead of this, they were filled with fantastic dreams of their own perfection, which put them upon disputing with each other for place and precedence in knowledge. “They became vain in their "imaginations, ev tais àra Roy.ouois, their altercating " reasonings.” They wrangled upon every subject; till at length the most knowing among them gave up all for lost. Their learning consisted in being able to recount the various errors of preceding philosophers, and all that wisdom could do was to deny the existence of truth. Thus it was that "their foolish “ heart was darkened.” The light which they had abused shone no more; the sun of revelation set, by their departure from it; the knowledge transmitted by tradition gradually died away like the twilight, and a long night of darkness and blindness of heart succeeded. The world by wisdom and the efforts of its own reason, knew God no more. Wisdom, indeed, was what the philosophers still continued to profess; but, “professing to be wise, they became
Fools;" and all may profit by their experience, which confirms the truth of the apostolic assertion in the text, that “knowledge puffeth up.”
Let as now turn our eyes towards the Jew. Be. hold him, the son of Abraham and heir of the promises, invested with the privileges of God's chosen, “having the form of knowledge, and of the truth in "the law," which he not only studies, but carries about as a perpetual monitor upon the borders of his garments, zealous for it even to madness. Yet be
hold him become an outcast of heaven and earth, his law abrogated, bis city burnt to ashes, himself a fugitive and a vagabond, without king, priest, prophet, temple, or habitation, a by-word and a hissing among all the nations of the earth. Who is not curious to inquire into the cause of such astonishing misery, such unprecedented calamities? The cause is this: knowledge puffeth him up; his privileges became an occasion of boasting himself against his brethren, and envy ate' out his charity. “Going about “ to establish his own righteousness” upon the strength of his own wisdom, he rejected the Lord his righteousness, and nailed Him who is the source of wisdom to the cross, persecuting to the death all who offered to preach that righteousness and teach that wisdom to a sinful and ignorant world.
When the distinction of Jew and Gentile ceased, and one church (for that reason called Catholic) comprehended within its pale the believers of both denominations, knowledge puffed men up into heretics and schismatics. Pride made them rather choose to see themselves exalted at the head of a faction, than the church edified by their labours in an inferior station. This was the case in the church of Corinth, and has been the cause of every heresy and schism since. Novices, and persons whose heads are filled with religious notions while their hearts and affections are not yet subdued by charity, are apt to fancy themselves formed for something great and extraordinary. They think it matter of general lamentation that talents like theirs should be buried in obscurity;
and therefore, since they cannot preside in the church, they are determined to preside out of it.
These instances, it is presumed, are sufficient to evince, that “knowledge puffeth up;" knowledge, I mean, without charity; for, had that accompanied it, all these things had never happened. Charity had kept Lucifer shining in his station, and rejoicing in the salvation of the human race. Charity had prevented the transgression and fall of man. Charity had employed the knowledge of the Gentile in glorifying God who gave it, and
it, and that of the Jew in promoting the kingdom of the Messiah, and the conversion of his brethren; and charity, among the members of Christ's body, had preserved it in peace and unity. But to show more at large that it is charity which directeth knowledge to its right end, the edification of the church, was the
II. Thing proposed. And this will be best done by setting before you some instances the reverse of the foregoing.
If, therefore, we ascend a second time into heaven, we shall find that the principle which opposed and triumphed over the knowledge of Lucifer inflated by pride, was the wisdom of God actuated by love. Praise and glory are due from man to all the divine attributes, for all were concerned in effecting his redemption; wisdom contrived, and power executed; but love set all to work, love perfected and crowned the whole. “ The Lord is a God of knowledge;" but it was love which communicated that knowledge to mankind, which made the eternal wisdom to "rejoice in the habitable part of the earth, and de
light to be with the sons of men.” He is a God of power; but that could only terrify us, till love employed it against our enemies: for which reason, when the Psalmist singeth, “Great is our Lord, and
great is his power, yea, and his wisdom is infi" nite;" he crowneth all by adding, “ The Lord is “ loving unto every man, and his mercy is over all “ his works.” Pride would have used knowledge to the aggrandizing itself at the expense of others; but love turned it to the advancement of others by humiliation of itself. The accuser of man was cast down, and man, in the person of the Messiah, exalted to an union with God. The knowledge which terminated in itself, sunk into the lowest hell; while that which sought the good of others, took its seat at the right hand of the Most High. The knowledge of Satan puffed him up to the destruction of himself and his adherents; the love of God built up the church of the redeemed unto salvation and glory everlasting.
To reverse the sad effects of a vain thirst after knowledge in our first parent, divine Love became incarnate, and appeared upon earth in a bodily shape, in the form and fashion of a man. " That which “ was from the beginning the disciples heard; they
saw with their eyes, and their hands handled the or Word of Life." All that he did and all that he suffered, he did and suffered because he loved us, for the good of his church; not for his own advantage, but for us men, and for our salvation, he came down from heaven; and because he had taken upon him to deliver man, therefore he did not abhor the virgin's womb. For the uncircumcision of our hearts he underwent circumcision; and to wash away our pollutions, he was baptized; because man by the temptation of knowledge was seduced to infidelity and disobedience, he encountered and overcame the tempter by the word of God, and by love keeping the commandments. Jehovah by his prophet Isaiah had foretold of him, “ By his knowledge shall my right
eous servant justify many.” The end of his knowledge was to be the justification of his chosen ; and the promise was fulfilled; for, having " increased in “ wisdom, he went about doing good." His learning produced not a morose self-complacency, but a lovely affability, and a desire to teach others the glad tidings of joy. The treasures of wisdom and know. ledge were not suffered to rust and canker, locked up from the public by a supercilious reservedness; but out of them he continually dispersed abroad, and gave to the poor in spirit: of those who came to him he rejected none, and went to those who came not. The sun at its rising found the good Shepherd engaged in the care of his flock; and after it was set he did not forget them, but spent his nights in praying for those whom his days were employed in teaching If his wisdom instructed the ignorant, and counselled the doubtful, his power afforded relief to the broken in heart and diseased in body, forgiving all their sins, and heating all their infirmities. His unwearied diligence in acting can only be equalled by his invincible patience in suffering. Behold him despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted